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101  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Whistle blower murdered on: January 19, 2015, 01:26:35 PM
102  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: January 19, 2015, 01:24:28 PM
So, what are the facts here?
103  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Martin Luther King on: January 19, 2015, 11:24:07 AM
104  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Martin Luther King on: January 19, 2015, 11:21:25 AM
105  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Foreign Policy magazine on: January 19, 2015, 11:13:26 AM
By David Francis with Sabine Muscat

Plans to expand air strikes against the Islamic State are stalled. The United States and Turkey still are unable to agree on priorities in the bombing campaign in Syria and, as a result, the expected expansion of American-led bombings is going nowhere.

The Washington Post’s Karen DeYoung: Syrian President Bashar “[al-]Assad’s military surrounds, and regularly bombards from the air, Western-backed moderate opposition fighters and civilians in Aleppo, Syria’s second-largest city, in the northwest corner of the country. Turkey fears that Aleppo’s fall would not only add to the 1.6 million refugees who have already crossed its border from Syria and Iraq, but also would undermine its main priority of pushing Assad from power.” More here.

Efforts to fight the Islamic State on the ground are failing. The United States has made significant gains with some 1,700 bombs dropped on the Islamic State, turning back the terror group in some places while slowing its charge across Iraq and Syria. However, Iraqi officials and tribal leaders said the lack of a political process to accompany these strikes is driving Sunnis to join the group.

The Guardian’s Martin Chulov: “Samarra to the north of the Iraqi capital and Sunni areas just to the south remain tense and dangerous, despite more than seven months of air strikes that have supported the embattled Iraqi military and the large number of Shia militias that fight alongside it. Controlling both areas is considered vital to establishing control of Iraq.” More here.
106  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: California on: January 19, 2015, 10:58:43 AM
107  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Israel hit Hezbollah on: January 19, 2015, 10:56:51 AM
108  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CA aquifers contaminated?!? on: January 19, 2015, 10:47:08 AM

I find this deeply disconcerting.
109  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The small print on Obama's tax proposals on: January 18, 2015, 11:31:37 PM
110  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Race, religion, ethnic origin, LGBT, "discrimination", & discrimination. on: January 18, 2015, 02:47:51 PM
Not yet -- Have you?

This article caught my attention because I am on the alert for Oliver Stone-like "improvements" of the story.
111  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Smart Guns on: January 18, 2015, 12:42:22 PM
What say we to this?

BOULDER, Colo. — JUST after Christmas, Veronica Rutledge of Blackfoot, Idaho, took her 2-year-old son to a Walmart store to spend holiday gift cards. As they strolled by the electronics section, according to news reports, the toddler reached into his mom’s purse and pulled out a handgun that she legally carried. He pulled the trigger once and killed her.

The previous month, a 3-year-old boy in Washington State was shot in the face by a 4-year-old. Earlier, a 2-year-old boy in Pennsylvania shot and killed his 11-year-old sister.

About 20 children and teenagers are shot daily in the United States, according to a study by the journal Pediatrics.  Indeed, more preschool-age children (about 80 a year) are killed by guns each year than police officers are killed by guns (about 50), according to the F.B.I. and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  This toll is utterly unnecessary, for the technology to make childproof guns goes back more than a century. Beginning in the 1880s, Smith & Wesson (whose gun was used in the Walmart killing) actually sold childproof handguns that required a lever to be depressed as the trigger was pulled.

“No ordinary child under 8 years of age can possibly discharge it,” Smith & Wesson boasted at the time, and it sold half-a-million of these guns, but, today, it no longer offers that childproof option.

Doesn’t it seem odd that your cellphone can be set up to require a PIN or a fingerprint, but there’s no such option for a gun?

Which brings us to Kai Kloepfer, a lanky 17-year-old high school senior in Boulder, Colo. After the cinema shooting in nearby Aurora, Kloepfer decided that for a science fair project he would engineer a “smart gun” that could be fired only by an authorized user.

“I started with iris recognition, and that seemed a good idea until you realize that many people firing guns wear sunglasses,” Kloepfer recalls. “So I moved on to fingerprints.”

Kloepfer designed a smart handgun that fires only when a finger it recognizes is on the grip. More than 1,000 fingerprints can be authorized per gun, and Kloepfer says the sensor is 99.999 percent accurate.  A child can’t fire the gun. Neither can a thief — important here in a country in which more than 150,000 guns are stolen annually.

Kloepfer’s design won a grand prize in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Then he won a $50,000 grant from the Smart Tech Challenges Foundation to refine the technology. By the time he enters college in the fall (he applied early to Stanford and has been deferred), he hopes to be ready to license the technology to a manufacturer.

There are other approaches to smart guns. The best known, the Armatix iP1, made by a German company and available in the United States through a complicated online procedure, can be fired only if the shooter is wearing a companion wristwatch.

The National Rifle Association seems set against smart guns, apparently fearing that they might become mandatory. One problem has been an unfortunate 2002 New Jersey law stipulating that three years after smart guns are available anywhere in the United States, only smart guns can be sold in the state. The attorney general’s office there ruled recently that the Armatix smart gun would not trigger the law, but the provision has still led gun enthusiasts to bully dealers to keep smart guns off the market everywhere in the U.S.

Opponents of smart guns say that they aren’t fully reliable. Some, including Kloepfer’s, will need batteries to be recharged once a year or so. Still, if Veronica Rutledge had had one in her purse in that Idaho Walmart, her son wouldn’t have been able to shoot and kill her.

“Smart guns are going to save lives,” says Stephen Teret, a gun expert at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “They’re not going to save all lives, but why wouldn’t we want to make guns as safe a consumer product as possible?”

David Hemenway, a public health expert at Harvard, says that the way forward is for police departments or the military to buy smart guns, creating a market and proving they work.

An interfaith group of religious leaders is also appealing to gun industry leaders, ahead of the huge annual trade show in Las Vegas with 65,000 attendees, to drop opposition to smart guns.

Smart guns aren’t a panacea. But when even a 17-year-old kid can come up with a safer gun, why should the gun lobby be so hostile to the option of purchasing one?

Something is amiss when we protect our children from toys that they might swallow, but not from firearms. So Veronica Rutledge is dead, and her son will grow up with the knowledge that he killed her — and we all bear some responsibility when we don’t even try to reduce the carnage.
112  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Dowd: Selma and LBJ on: January 18, 2015, 12:39:27 PM
I wonder if Dowd is aware of LBJ's comment that with the Civil Rights Voting Act he would have "niggers voting Democratic for the next 100 years"?

WASHINGTON — I WENT Friday morning to see “Selma” and found myself watching it in a theater full of black teenagers.

Thanks to donations, D.C. public school kids got free tickets to the first Hollywood movie about the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on his birthday weekend — an effort that was duplicated for students around the country.

The kids did plenty of talking and texting, and plenty of fighting over whether there was too much talking and texting. Slowly but surely, though, the crowd was drawn in by the Scheherazade skills of the “Selma” director, Ava DuVernay.

The horrific scene of the four schoolgirls killed in the white supremacist bombing of a Birmingham, Ala., church stunned the audience. One young man next to me unleashed a string of expletives and admitted that he was scared. When civil rights leaders are clubbed, whipped and trampled by white lawmen as feral white onlookers cheer, the youngsters seemed aghast.

In a delicately wrought scene in which Coretta Scott King calls out her husband about his infidelities, some of the teenage girls reacted with a chorus of “oooohs.”

DuVernay sets the tone for her portrayal of Lyndon Johnson as patronizing and skittish on civil rights in the first scene between the president and Dr. King. L.B.J. stands above a seated M.L.K., pats him on the shoulder, and tells him “this voting thing is just going to have to wait” while he works on “the eradication of poverty.”

Many of the teenagers by me bristled at the power dynamic between the men. It was clear that a generation of young moviegoers would now see L.B.J.’s role in civil rights through DuVernay’s lens.

And that’s a shame. I loved the movie and find the Oscar snub of its dazzling actors repugnant. But the director’s talent makes her distortion of L.B.J. more egregious. Artful falsehood is more dangerous than artless falsehood, because fewer people see through it.

DuVernay told Rolling Stone that, originally, the script was more centered on the L.B.J.-M.L.K. relationship and was “much more slanted to Johnson.”

“I wasn’t interested in making a white-savior movie,” she said.

Hollywood has done that with films like “Mississippi Burning,” which cast white F.B.I. agents as the heroes, or “Cry Freedom,” which made a white journalist the focus rather Denzel Washington’s anti-apartheid activist, Steve Biko.

Instead of painting L.B.J. and M.L.K. as allies, employing different tactics but complementing each other, the director made Johnson an obstacle.

Top Johnson aide Jack Valenti told Michael Beschloss, the presidential historian, that L.B.J. aspired to pass a Voting Rights Act from his first night as president. Valenti said that his boss talked to him about it the night of J.F.K.’s assassination in the bedroom of Johnson’s house in D.C., The Elms, before the newly sworn-in president went to sleep.

On the tape of a phone conversation between President Johnson and Dr. King the week of L.B.J.’s 1965 inauguration, the president said that he indicated the time was yet ripe to ask Congress for it, and he made it clear that they both needed to think of something that would move public opinion more than a presidential speech.

“Johnson was probably thinking, at least in part, of the spring of ’63, when J.F.K. was privately saying the public wasn’t yet politically ready for a comprehensive civil rights bill,” Beschloss said. “Then came the May 1963 photograph of Birmingham police setting dogs against African-American demonstrators, which helped to move many white Americans who were on the fence about the issue.

“Once Selma happened, L.B.J. was, of course, horrified, but he knew that the atrocity would have an effect on white Americans similar to Birmingham that would make it easier for him to get a Voting Rights Act from Congress.”

In an interview with Gwen Ifill on P.B.S., DuVernay dismissed the criticism by Joseph Califano Jr. and other L.B.J. loyalists, who said that the president did not resist the Selma march or let J. Edgar Hoover send a sex tape of her husband to Mrs. King. (Bobby Kennedy, as J.F.K’s attorney general, is the one who allowed Hoover to tap Dr. King.)

“This is art; this is a movie; this is a film,” DuVernay said. “I’m not a historian. I’m not a documentarian.”

The “Hey, it’s just a movie” excuse doesn’t wash. Filmmakers love to talk about their artistic license to distort the truth, even as they bank on the authenticity of their films to boost them at awards season.

John Lewis, the Georgia congressman who was badly beaten in Selma, has said that bridge led to the Obama White House. And, on Friday night, the president offset the Oscar dis by screening “Selma” at the White House. Guests included DuVernay, Lewis and Oprah Winfrey, who acts in the film and was one of its producers.

There was no need for DuVernay to diminish L.B.J., given that the Civil Rights Movement would not have advanced without him. Vietnam is enough of a pox on his legacy.

As I have written about “Lincoln,” “Zero Dark Thirty,” and “Argo,” and as The New York Review of Books makes clear about “The Imitation Game,” the truth is dramatic and fascinating enough. Why twist it? On matters of race — America’s original sin — there is an even higher responsibility to be accurate.

DuVernay had plenty of vile white villains — including one who kicks a priest to death in the street — and they were no doubt shocking to the D.C. school kids. There was no need to create a faux one.
113  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / FOX messes up badly and apologizes on: January 18, 2015, 12:06:31 PM
114  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR on: January 18, 2015, 11:42:03 AM
Exactly so!
115  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / White House knew of CIA's raid on Senate Intel Comm's computers on: January 18, 2015, 11:40:43 AM
While the following article does not acknowledge the relevant alternative points, there is much here worth considering:
116  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Immigration and Islam: Europe's Crisi of Faith on: January 17, 2015, 10:36:30 PM
Immigration and Islam: Europe’s Crisis of Faith
France and the rest of Western Europe have never honestly confronted the issues raised by Muslim immigration
Two women talk as police officers stand in front of the courthouse in Meaux, near Paris, on Sept. 22, 2011. The court convicted two other women for publicly wearing Islamic veils; France banned face coverings earlier that year. ENLARGE
By Christopher Caldwell
Jan. 16, 2015 6:14 p.m. ET

The terrorist assault on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7 may have been organized by al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen. But the attack, along with another at a Paris kosher market days later, was carried out by French Muslims descended from recent waves of North African and West African immigration. Well before the attacks, which left 17 dead, the French were discussing the possibility that tensions with the country’s own Muslim community were leading France toward some kind of armed confrontation.

Consider Éric Zemmour, a slashing television debater and a gifted polemicist. His history of the collapse of France’s postwar political order, “Le suicide français,” was No. 1 on the best-seller lists for several weeks this fall. “Today, our elites think it’s France that needs to change to suit Islam, and not the other way around,” Mr. Zemmour said on a late-night talk show in October, “and I think that with this system, we’re headed toward civil war.”

More recently, Michel Houellebecq published “Submission,” a novel set in the near future. In it, the re-election of France’s current president, François Hollande, has drawn recruits to a shadowy group proclaiming its European identity. “Sooner or later, civil war between Muslims and the rest of the population is inevitable,” a sympathizer explains. “They draw the conclusion that the sooner this war begins, the better chance they’ll have of winning it.” Published, as it happened, on the morning of the attacks, Mr. Houellebecq’s novel replaced Mr. Zemmour’s at the top of the best-seller list, where it remains.

Two days after the Charlie Hebdo killings, there was a disturbing indication on Le Monde’s website of how French people were thinking. One item about the killing vastly outpaced all others in popularity. The reactions of Europe’s leaders was shared about 5,000 times, tales of Muslim schoolchildren with mixed feelings about 6,000, a detailed account of the Charlie Hebdo editorial meeting ended by the attack, 9,000. Topping them all, shared 28,000 times, was a story about reprisals: “Mosques become targets, French Muslims uneasy.” Those clicks are the sound of French fear that something larger may be under way.
Marine Le Pen of France’s Front National acknowledges supporters on Nov. 30. Populist parties are rising across Europe as voters feel abandoned by the mainstream political class. ENLARGE
Marine Le Pen of France’s Front National acknowledges supporters on Nov. 30. Populist parties are rising across Europe as voters feel abandoned by the mainstream political class. Getty Images

France’s problem has elements of a military threat, a religious conflict and a violent civil-rights movement. It is not unique. Every country of Western Europe has a version. For a half-century, millions of immigrants from North and sub-Saharan Africa have arrived, lured by work, welfare, marriage and a refuge from war. There are about 20 million Muslims in Europe, with some 5 million of them in France, according to the demographer Michèle Tribalat. That amounts to roughly 8% of the population of France, compared with about 5% of both the U.K. and Germany.

Such a migration is not something that Europeans would have countenanced at any other moment in their generally xenophobic history, and the politicians who permitted it to happen were not lucky. The movement coincided with a collapse in European birthrates, which lent the immigration an unstoppable momentum, and with the rise of modern political Islam, which gave the diaspora a radical edge.
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Just why Europe has had such trouble can be partially understood by contrasting it with the U.S. Europe’s welfare states are more developed and, until recently, more open to noncitizens, so illegal or “underground” immigration has been low. But employment rates have been low, too. If Americans have traditionally considered immigrants the hardest-working segment of their population, Europeans have had the opposite stereotype. In the early 1970s, 2 million of the 3 million foreigners in Germany were in the labor force; by the turn of this century, 2 million of 7.5 million were.

Europe was not just disoriented by the trauma of World War II. It was also demoralized and paralyzed by the memory of Nazism and the continuing dismantling of colonialism. Leaders felt that they lacked the moral standing to address problems that were as plain as the noses on their faces—just as U.S. leaders ducked certain racial issues in the wake of desegregation.

Europeans drew the wrong lessons from the American civil-rights movement. In the U.S., there was race and there was immigration. They were separate matters that could (at least until recently) be disentangled by people of good faith. In Europe, the two problems have long been inseparable. Voters who worried about immigration were widely accused of racism, or later of “Islamophobia.”

In France, antiracism set itself squarely against freedom of speech. The passage of the 1990 Gayssot Law, which punished denial of the Holocaust, was a watershed. Activist lobbies sought to expand such protections by limiting discussion of a variety of historical events—the slave trade, colonialism, foreign genocides. This was backed up by institutional muscle. In the 1980s, President François Mitterrand’s Socialist party created a nongovernmental organization called SOS Racisme to rally minority voters and to hound those who worked against their interests.

Older bodies such as the communist-inspired Movement against Racism and for Friendship Among the Peoples made a specialty of threatening (and sometimes carrying out) lawsuits against European intellectuals for the slightest trespasses against political correctness: the late Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci for her post-9/11 lament “The Rage and the Pride,” the philosopher Alain Finkielkraut for doubting that the 2005 riots in France’s suburban ghettos were due to unemployment, the Russia scholar Hélène Carrère d’Encausse for speculating about the role of polygamy in the problems of West African immigrants.

Speech codes have done little to facilitate entry into the workforce for immigrants and their children or to reduce crime. But they have intimidated European voting publics, insulated politicians from criticism and turned certain crucial matters into taboos. Immigrant and ethnic issues have become tightly bound to the issue of building the multinational European Union, which has removed vast areas of policy from voter accountability. “Anti-European” sentiments continue to rise.
A woman holds up a sign that says, ‘I am Charlie, I am Jewish, I am a Muslim, I am French’ during a rally in Paris on Jan. 11. ENLARGE
A woman holds up a sign that says, ‘I am Charlie, I am Jewish, I am a Muslim, I am French’ during a rally in Paris on Jan. 11. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

So impressed were the Europeans with their own generosity that they failed to notice that the population of second- and third-generation immigrants was growing bigger, stronger, more unified and less inclined to take moral instruction. This is partly a demographic problem. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, Western Europe has had some of the lowest birthrates of any civilization on record. Without immigration, Europe’s population would fall by a hundred million by midcentury, according to U.N. estimates.

When mass immigration began, Europeans did not give much thought to the influence of Islam. In the 1960s, there might have been worries that a North African was, say, a Nasserite Arab nationalist, but not that he was a would-be jihadist. Too many Europeans forgot that people carry a long past within them—and that, even when they do not, they sometimes wish to. Materialistic, acquisitive, averse to God and family, Europe’s culture appeared cold, dead and unsatisfying to many Muslims. It failed to satisfy a lot of non-Muslims too, but until they ran out of borrowed money with the 2008 crash, they could avoid facing it squarely.

Europeans didn’t know enough about the cultural background of Muslims to browbeat them the same way they did the native-born. Muslims felt none of the historic guilt over fascism and colonialism that so affected non-Muslim Europeans. They had a freedom of political action that Europeans lacked.

As European politics grew duller and the stakes lower, many political romantics looked enviously at the aspirations of the Muslim poor, particularly regarding Palestine. You could see a hint of this last weekend in the BBC journalist who interrupted a mourning Frenchwoman, distraught about the targeting of Jews for murder at a kosher supermarket, to say that “the Palestinians suffer hugely at Jewish hands.”

In a world that prized “identity,” Muslim immigrants were aristocrats. Those who became radicalized developed the most monstrous kind of self-regard. A chilling moment in the most recent terrorist drama came when the TV network RTL phoned the kosher supermarket where the Malian-French hostage-taker, Amedy Coulibaly, was holding his victims at gunpoint. He refused to talk but hung up the phone carelessly. The newspaper Le Monde was able to publish a transcript of the strutting stupidity to which he then gave expression:

“They’re always trying to make you believe that Muslims are terrorists. Me, I’m born in France. If they hadn’t been attacked elsewhere, I wouldn’t be here…Think of the people who had Bashar al-Assad in Syria. They were torturing people…We didn’t intervene for years…Then bombers, coalition of 50,000 countries, all that…Why did they do that?”

The Muslim community is not to be confused with the terrorists it produces. But left to its own, it probably lacks the means, the inclination and the courage to stand up to the faction, however small, that supports terrorism. In 1995, there were riots among French Muslims after the arrest of Khalid Kelkal of Lyon, who had planted several bombs—in a train station, near a Jewish school, on a high-speed rail track. In 2012, when Mohamed Merah of Toulouse was killed by police after having gunned down soldiers, a rabbi and three Jewish elementary-school children, his brother professed himself “proud,” and his father threatened to file a wrongful-death suit against the government.
Populist parties like the U.K. Independence Party wind up, by voter demand, placing immigration and multiculturalism at the center of their concerns. ENLARGE
Populist parties like the U.K. Independence Party wind up, by voter demand, placing immigration and multiculturalism at the center of their concerns. PA Wire/Zuma Press

And when Charlie Hebdo printed a memorial cover this week that had a picture of its controversial cartoon character “Muhammad” on it, it was as if the attacks had never happened: Muslim community spokesmen, even moderate ones, issued dire warnings about the insult to them and their coreligionists. To many Muslims in France and the rest of Europe, the new drawings were evidence not that the terrorists had failed to kill a magazine but that the French had failed to heed a warning. Impressive though the post-attack memorial marches were, “the working classes and the North African and West African immigrant kids weren’t there,” as the president of France’s Young Socialists told the newspaper Le Temps.

It may seem harsh to criticize the French in their time of grief, but they are responding today with tools that have failed them in previous crises. They reflexively look at their own supposed bigotry as always, somehow, the ultimate cause of Islamist terrorism, and they limit their efforts to making minority communities feel more at home.

The mysterious riots of 2005 in France—which lasted for almost three weeks, during which the rioters made no claims and put forward no leaders—were chalked up to deprivation. The French media responded with an effort to hire more nonwhite news anchors and reporters, and the government promised to spend more in the suburbs. Now, after the murders in Paris, the contradictions continue to accumulate:

• On religion: Mr. Hollande has insisted that the attacks have “nothing to do with Islam.” At the same time, Prime Minister Manuel Valls speaks of “moderate Islam” and rails against “conservatism and obscurantism”—as if the violence had everything to do with Islam, and even with religious devotion in general.

• On spying: Some in the French government blame intelligence failures, since the secret services tracked the Charlie Hebdo killers Said and Chérif Kouachi until last summer. But government officials boast of about their principled unwillingness to legislate a “Patriot Act a la française”—even as they draw daily on intelligence gathered by the U.S.

• On religious hatred: Justice Minister Christiane Taubira has announced an all-out assault on “racism and anti-Semitism,” promising that those who attack others because of their religion will be fought “with rigor and resolve.” In theory, this sounds like a promise to protect Jewish shoppers from getting killed at their neighborhood grocery stores. In practice, it will mean placing limits on any inquiry into the inner dynamics of Muslim communities and may wind up increasing the terrorist threat rather than diminishing it.
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What continues is the deafness of France’s government and mainstream parties to public opinion (and popular suffrage) on the issues of immigration and a multiethnic society. Mr. Hollande’s approval ratings have risen since the attacks, but they are still below 30%. In January 2013, according to the newsweekly L’Express, 74% of the French said that Islam “is not compatible with French society.” Though that number fell last year, it is almost certain to be higher now.

Voters all across Europe feel abandoned by the mainstream political class, which is why populist parties are everywhere on the rise. Whatever the biggest initial grievance of these parties—opposition to the European Union for the U.K. Independence Party, opposition to the euro for Alternative für Deutschland, corruption for Italy’s 5 Star Movement—all wind up, by voter demand, placing immigration and multiculturalism at the center of their concerns.

In France, it is the Front National, a party with antecedents on the far right, that has been the big beneficiary. In the last national election, for seats in the European Parliament, the FN, led by Marine Le Pen (daughter of the party’s founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen), topped the polls. But the ruling Socialists froze the Front National out of the recent national ceremonies of mourning, limiting participation in the Paris rally to those parties it deemed “republican.” This risks damaging the cause of republicanism more than the cause of Le Pen and her followers.

Acts of terrorism can occur without shaking a country to its core. These latest attacks, awful as they were, could be taken in stride if the majority in France felt itself secure. But it does not. Thanks to wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, thousands of young people who share the indignation of the Kouachis and Coulibaly are now battle-hardened and heavily armed.

France, like Europe more broadly, has been careless for decades. It has not recognized that free countries are for peoples strong enough to defend them. A willingness to join hands and to march in solidarity is a good first response to the awful events of early January. It will not be enough.

Mr. Caldwell is a senior editor at the Weekly Standard and the author of “Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West.”
117  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Turkey and Attaturk: Why Hitler wished Germans were Muslim on: January 17, 2015, 09:55:10 PM
Why Hitler Wished He Was Muslim
The Führer admired Atatürk’s subordination of religion to the state—and his ruthless treatment of minorities.
Holy Warriors
Muslim recruits of the SS Handzar Division pray in 1943. ENLARGE
Muslim recruits of the SS Handzar Division pray in 1943. Harvard University Press; German Archives
Dominic Green
Jan. 16, 2015 3:55 p.m. ET

‘It’s been our misfortune to have the wrong religion,” Hitler complained to his pet architect Albert Speer. “Why did it have to be Christianity, with its meekness and flabbiness?” Islam was a Männerreligion—a “religion of men”—and hygienic too. The “soldiers of Islam” received a warrior’s heaven, “a real earthly paradise” with “houris” and “wine flowing.” This, Hitler argued, was much more suited to the “Germanic temperament” than the “Jewish filth and priestly twaddle” of Christianity.
Atatürk in the Nazi Imagination

By Stefan Ihrig
Harvard, 311 pages, $29.95

For decades, historians have seen Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch of 1923 as emulating Mussolini ’s 1922 March on Rome. Not so, says Stefan Ihrig in “Atatürk in the Nazi Imagination.” Hitler also had Turkey in mind—and not just the 1908 march of the Young Turks on Constantinople, which brought down a government. After 1917, the bankrupt, defeated and cosmopolitan Ottoman Empire contracted into a vigorous “Turanic” nation-state. In the early 1920s, the new Turkey was the first “revisionist” power to opt out of the postwar system, retaking lost lands on the Syrian coast and control over the Strait of the Dardanelles. Hitler, Mr. Ihrig writes, saw Turkey as the model of a “prosperous and völkisch modern state.”

Through the 1920s and 1930s, Nazi publications lauded Turkey as a friend and forerunner. In 1922, for example, the Völkischer Beobachter, the Nazi Party’s weekly paper, praised Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the “Father of the Turks,” as a “real man,” embodying the “heroic spirit” and the Führerprinzip, or führer principle, that demanded absolute obedience. Atatürk’s subordination of Islam to the state anticipated Hitler’s strategy toward Christianity. The Nazis presented Turkey as stronger for having massacred its Armenians and expelling its Greeks. “Who,” Hitler asked in August 1939, “speaks today of the extermination of the Armenians?”
Islam and Nazi Germany’s War

By David Motadel
Harvard, 500 pages, $35

This was not Germany’s first case of Türkenfieber, or Turk fever. Turkey had slid into World War I not by accident but because Germany had greased the tracks: training officers, supplying weapons, and drawing the country away from Britain and France. Hitler wanted to repeat the Kaiser ’s experiment in search of a better result. By 1936, Germany supplied half of Turkey’s imports and bought half of Turkey’s exports, notably chromite, vital for steel production. But Atatürk, Mr. Ihrig writes, hedged his bets and dodged a “decisive friendship.” After Atatürk’s death in 1938, his successor, Ismet Inönü, tacked between the powers. In 1939, Turkey signed a treaty of mutual defense with Britain, but in 1941 Turkey agreed to a Treaty of Friendship with Germany, securing Hitler’s southern flank before he invaded Russia. Inönü hinted that Turkey would join the fight if Germany could conquer the Caucasus.

As David Motadel writes in “Islam and Nazi Germany’s War,” Muslims fought on both sides in World War II. But only Nazis and Islamists had a political-spiritual romance. Both groups hated Jews, Bolsheviks and liberal democracy. Both sought what Michel Foucault, praising the Iranian Revolution in 1979, would later call the spiritual-political “transfiguration of the world” by “combat.” The caliph, the Islamist Zaki Ali explained, was the “führer of the believers.” “Made by Jews, led by Jews—therewith Bolshevism is the natural enemy of Islam,” wrote Mahomed Sabry, a Berlin-based propagandist for the Muslim Brotherhood in “Islam, Judaism, Bolshevism,” a book that the Reich’s propaganda ministry recommended to journalists.

By late 1941, Germany controlled large Muslim populations in southeastern Europe and North Africa. Nazi policy extended the grand schemes of imperial Germany toward madly modern ends. To aid the “liberation struggle of Islam,” the propaganda ministry told journalists to praise “the Islamic world as a cultural factor,” avoid criticism of Islam, and substitute “anti-Jewish” for “anti-Semitic.” In April 1942, Hitler became the first European leader to declare that Islam was “incapable of terrorism.” As usual, it is hard to tell if the Führer set the tone or merely amplified his people’s obsessions.

Like Atatürk, Hitler saw the Turkish renaissance as racial, not religious. Germans of Turkish and Iranian descent were exempt from the Nuremberg Laws, but the racial status of German Arabs remained creatively indefinite, even after September 1943, when Muslims became eligible for membership in the Nazi Party. As the war went on, Balkan Muslims were added to the “racially valuable peoples of Europe.” The Palestinian Arab leader Haj Amin al-Husseini, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, recruited thousands of these “Musligermanics” as the first non-Germanic volunteers for the SS. Soviet prisoners of Turkic origin volunteered too. In November 1944, Himmler and the Mufti created an SS-run school for military imams at Dresden.

Haj Amin al-Husseini, the founder of Palestinian nationalism, is notorious for his efforts to persuade the Nazis to extend their genocide of the Jews to the Palestine Mandate. The Mufti met Hitler and Himmler in Berlin in 1941 and asked the Nazis to guarantee that when the Wehrmacht drove the British from Palestine, Germany would establish an Arab regime and assist in the “removal” of its Jews. Hitler replied that the Reich would not intervene in the Mufti’s kingdom, other than to pursue their shared goal: “the annihilation of Jewry living in Arab space.” The Mufti settled in Berlin, befriended Adolf Eichmann, and lobbied the governments of Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria to cancel a plan to transfer Jews to Palestine. Subsequently, some 400,000 Jews from these countries were sent to death camps.

Mr. Motadel describes the Mufti’s Nazi dealings vividly, but he also excels in unearthing other odious and fascinating characters. Among them: Zeki Kiram, the Ottoman officer turned disciple of Rashid Rida, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood; and Johann von Leers, a Nazi professor who converted to Islam and became Omar Amin, an anti-Semitic publicist for Nasser ’s Egypt.

Some of the Muslim Nazis ended badly. Others stayed at their desks, then consulted for Saudi Arabia in retirement. The major Muslim collaborators escaped. Fearing Muslim uprisings, the Allies did not try the Mufti as a war criminal; he died in Beirut in 1974, politically eclipsed by his young cousin, Mohammed Abdul Raouf al-Qudwa al-Husseini, better known as Yasser Arafat. Meanwhile, at Munich, the surviving SS volunteers, joined by refugees from the Soviet Union, formed postwar Germany’s first Islamic community, its leaders an ex-Wehrmacht imam and the erstwhile chief imam of the Eastern Muslim SS Division. In the 1950s, some of Munich’s Muslim ex-Nazis worked for the intelligence services of the U.S., tightening the “green belt against Communism.”

A revolutionary idea must be seeded before, in Heidegger ’s words, “suddenly the unbound powers of being come forth and are accomplished as history.” Seven decades passed between Europe’s revolutionary spring of 1848 and the Russian Revolution of 1917. The effects of Germany’s ideological seeding of Muslim societies in the 1930s and ’40s are only now becoming apparent.

Impeccably researched and clearly written, Messrs. Motadel and Ihrig’s books will transform our understanding of the Nazi policies that were, Mr. Motadel writes, some “of the most vigorous attempts to politicize and instrumentalize Islam in modern history.”

—Mr. Green is the author of “The Double Life of Dr. Lopez” and “Three Empires on the Nile.”
118  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Marie Le Pen, champion of French anxiety on: January 17, 2015, 09:29:51 PM
Note her comments about Putin, especially in light of my recent postings of Glenn Beck's musings on Russia

The Champion of French Anxiety
The National Front leader says ‘we are the only ones to solve the problem’ of the country’s Islamist threat.
Zina Saunders
Sohrab Ahmari
Jan. 16, 2015 6:50 p.m. ET

Nanterre, France

Following last week’s terror attacks in Paris on journalists at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and on a kosher supermarket, many Western leaders have been reluctant to say the motive was at all religious. French President François Hollande said Charlie Hebdo had been targeted by “obscurantism,” whatever that is. And White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Tuesday spent a painful five minutes explaining the Obama administration’s aversion to using the term “radical Islam.”

That’s not a problem for Marine Le Pen, who is never obscure.

“It’s clear Islamic fundamentalism,” says the leader of the National Front, France’s far-right political party that has been gaining in the polls. “Now all the eyes are open,” she adds, referring to a general French awakening to the Islamist threat. And “we are the only ones to solve the problem,” by which she means the National Front.

Once a political outlier, Ms. Le Pen has been gaining prominence as France’s problems—a moribund economy and its un-assimilated Muslim-immigrant population—have become more acute and seemingly beyond cure by the traditional political class. Now, in the aftermath of the home-grown Islamist slaughter in Paris, Ms. Le Pen is betting that she is the French politician most likely to benefit from her countrymen’s shock and disbelief over the threat in their midst.

So it seems a good moment to visit with Ms. Le Pen, whom I met Friday at the National Front’s headquarters in Nanterre, a northwestern suburb of Paris. National Front posters with the slogan “Oui, la France” depict a fierce woman with steely eyes, and that she is: a tall, commanding presence who speaks rapidly in a husky rumble of a voice. But the 46-year-old Ms. Le Pen, alternately smiling or reserved as the moment requires, is also unquestionably charming. There’s a smile covering the steel.

When discussing the terror attacks, or many of France’s other problems, Ms. Le Pen steers the conversation to immigration. “The first problem is that the borders are open, and practically anyone can go freely all around,” she says. “There is no responsible country that would accept such a situation.” It should have been “obvious,” Ms. Le Pen adds, that “massive immigration would just allow the fundamentalists to increase their numbers.”

Seated with three large French flags on the wall nearby, she adds: “There are obvious signs that among the people coming so easily into our country, the hormones of unrest will rise. The French Republic needs to offer to its forces, police, security and army, the proper means to protect our country.”

Yet Ms. Le Pen balks at the prospect of heightening government surveillance to prevent future attacks: “We are totally for individual freedom. The freedom for all is important. In order to catch some, we should not block everybody.”

At the same time she rejects as too weak the tough new counterterror measures announced by Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Friday—including isolation of jihadists in prison, increased staffing at intelligence agencies and granting security services broader power to monitor online communications. “Valls’s speech,” she says, “it was just a speech.” Beyond restricting immigration, her main counterterror proposal is the construction of new prisons and additional funding for the penitentiary administration.

In a country already made wobbly by years of economic anemia—with unemployment hovering intractably above 10%, roughly one in four young people unemployed, and negligible to nonexistent growth—and now quaking after the eruption of Islamist terrorism, Ms. Le Pen’s blunt-force prescriptions have made the National Front more plausible as a political force than it has ever been. Where the party had been an alarming but relatively marginal player under the leadership of her father, the rhetorical bomb-thrower Jean-Marie Le Pen, the more media-savvy Ms. Le Pen has been better at selling the nationalist line since taking over from him in 2011.

Her fixes for France’s troubles are simple: Exit the European Union and end the reign of “globalist” economics—the free movement of goods, capital and labor—that she blames for the fact that France is “dying.” Above all: “Stop immigration,” not just to discourage the potential Islamist threat, but for the overall health of the country. “There are 200,000 legal immigrants coming to France every year,” Ms. Le Pen says. “They just add to the problems.”

Ms. Le Pen doesn’t directly answer my question about what she proposes to do about the millions of Muslim immigrants whose only nationality is French. Instead, she turns her attention to immigrants with dual citizenship. “Do you know that there are 700,000 voters, Algerian and French, who voted in the recent Algerian elections?” she asks. “These people can and should decide one way or the other. We have nothing against being a foreigner in France, but they have to decide.” The message: Choose France or get out. Also: Those with dual citizenship who commit crimes in France should “be sent back.”

It’s tempting to dismiss these views as unrealistic and against the tide of history—the French political and media establishments routinely do. As Ms. Le Pen says: “Many political parties in France and many in the media, the first question they ask about anything is: ‘Will this be advantageous for the National Front?’ ” A notable example was the decision by the organizers of last weekend’s unity march in Paris not to invite Ms. Le Pen and her supporters.

But merely to dismiss or ignore Ms. Le Pen and the National Front doesn’t deter her political project. She represents a real and substantial constituency of people who, as one Paris-based journalist told me, “don’t recognize the French republic they used to know anymore.” These are working-class voters, mostly white, who once answered the old left’s call of class solidarity but who now feel left behind as manufacturers and job-creators flee the country under the press of France’s rigid labor laws, protectionist rules and high taxes.

When France’s postwar economy was still booming, and the welfare state was cash-flush, the country could afford to absorb millions of Muslim immigrants, mainly from France’s former colonies in North Africa. At the time, lawmakers made almost no effort to encourage these newcomers to assimilate. They were relegated to banlieues, public-housing ghettoes on the outskirts of major cities, where the French republican ethos—liberty, equality, fraternity—rarely penetrated.

Ms. Le Pen says it is too late to bring these immigrants into the mainstream: “You can’t assimilate a group,” she says. “The group will impose the laws of the group on the individual. . . . The French nationality, either you earn it, or you deserve it, but it’s not granted automatically.”

She cites Lassana Bathily, the black Muslim employee of the besieged kosher supermarket who helped save Jewish lives during the hostage crisis, as a model. “It’s good that we gave him the French nationality” after his heroism became known. By contrast, the Kouachi brothers, who perpetrated the Charlie Hebdo attack, “already had a police record, and obviously they should not have been given French nationality,” she says.

Nor does Ms. Le Pen favor a grand bargain with French Muslims, an oft-proposed model in which the French state, which is colorblind according to its founding ideals, gives Muslim immigrants a leg up in exchange for a pledge of allegiance from their communal leaders. “Positive discrimination, this is very bad for France,” she says. “This again was imported from the U.S., and it will never work in France. The grand bargain in France is called secularism. The laws had to be respected by all.”

She adds: “Whom do you talk to in France with the Muslim community? The current major Muslim organization in France, which is privileged nowadays, is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. Meanwhile, General Sisi in Egypt is fighting the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Under her father’s leadership, the National Front developed a reputation as a party of cranks and anti-Semites. Mr. Le Pen caused a storm in 1987 by calling the Holocaust a “detail in the history of World War II.” Last year he said that “Mr. Ebola” could “sort out” the world’s “demographic explosion.”

Ms. Le Pen has tried to distance the party from her father’s legacy, and she has made a few inroads in the French Jewish community. She says she has been ahead of others in sounding the alarm about anti-Semitism. Muslim fundamentalists, she says, “take advantage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The National Front is the best shield to protect France’s Jewish citizens against this threat. We are the only ones to solve this problem.”

The National Front is by no means a traditional right-wing party. On economic matters, the party is closer to the left. Take the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, the Euro-American free-trade agreement that analysts estimate would boost growth by $100 billion on both sides of the pond. The environmentalist left and labor unions fiercely oppose the TTIP; so does Ms. Le Pen.

“The U.S. way of conducting business doesn’t bring anything to France,” she says. “The hygienic and social methods imposed in the U.S. are not similar to the needs of France and the French. The multinational interests that impose their own ways are not good for France. Practically, all these are just weakening France. I am in defense of economic ways that would help France.”

Ms. Le Pen also has a soft spot for Russian President Vladimir Putin . “Putin did very difficult work,” she says. “He had to face and put together Russia after the Soviet Union. It’s a complicated country. We should not continue anymore to impose our own ideas and our judgment on the situation in Russia. Putin was able to gain Russia respect and place it again on a high level on the international stage.”

American global leadership is anathema among the National Front crowd. “I am for a multi-polar world,” says Ms. Le Pen, “where each country definitely has its own sovereignty. The economic model suggested by Putin, which is a patriotic model, is positive in my eyes. Russians are patriotic, and this is a welcome thing. We can do nothing against Russia. There is a Cold War now against Russia that France is involved in. We should work with Russia.”

Regarding allegations that the National Front has received a €10 billion loan ($11.58 billion) from a Kremlin-tied bank, Ms. Le Pen says: “All is false as usual. We went to French banks, many European banks, but all refused our request. The bank in question is not a Kremlin bank but a private bank. This in no way has an influence on the National Front’s political views and that will never change. If a U.S. bank or a French bank would like to lend us money, we would accept gladly.”

The European Union, which even its supporters concede suffers from a democratic deficit, draws her scorn. “I believe in nations,” she says. “I believe in democracy. I believe in people who are in charge of their own destinies. The European Union concentrates all the worst aspects of hyper-socialist ideas and all the worst aspects of the ultra-liberal ideas. The European Union was made against the people’s wills. It is a failed experiment.”

In last May’s elections to the European Parliament, the National Front thumped both the center-right Union for a Popular Movement and the center-left Socialists. In a September poll, Ms. Le Pen beat President Hollande in a hypothetical face-off. France’s next presidential election is still two years off.

Meanwhile, on Thursday police raided an Islamist cell that spread across Belgium and France. Authorities said jihadists were planning to murder police officers in the streets. Two suspects in Belgium were killed. Fifteen suspects were arrested in the two countries—and France shuddered anew.
119  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / VDH: Multi-Culti Suicide on: January 17, 2015, 09:21:34 PM
120  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / DEm Muslim Congressman on House Intel Committee on: January 17, 2015, 05:41:57 PM
121  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Interesting interview with German writer after visit w ISIS on: January 17, 2015, 05:34:07 PM
122  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Knife Law on: January 17, 2015, 05:09:00 PM
123  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / And so it goes , , , on: January 17, 2015, 04:58:16 PM
124  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bill Maher defends free speech on: January 17, 2015, 04:45:13 PM
125  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: AG Holder cuts back on civil forfeiture on: January 17, 2015, 12:18:12 PM
Justice Department Ends Role in Controversial Seizure Practice
New Policy Bars Participating in So-Called Federally Adopted Forfeitures
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, shown in December, issued new rules limiting the federal role in controversial asset seizures on Friday. ENLARGE
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, shown in December, issued new rules limiting the federal role in controversial asset seizures on Friday. David Goldman/Associated Press
Devlin Barrett and
Zusha Elinson
Updated Jan. 16, 2015 7:01 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON—The Justice Department will no longer participate in asset seizures by local police agencies that critics say grab cash and other property from individuals without proving they have done anything wrong.

The new policy marks one of the most significant changes to asset forfeiture in decades and will bar the U.S. from participating in some types of seizures that have proven popular among state and local law-enforcement agencies because they provide a windfall of cash to local police.

Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday called the change “the first step in a comprehensive review that we have launched of the federal asset-forfeiture program.’’

The practice, known as federally adopted forfeitures, allowed local law enforcement to retain a greater portion of any seized assets—such as cash or other valuables—than under many state laws. Under “adoptions,” local police agencies would seize property in accordance with federal law and ask the federal government to “adopt” the forfeiture. The U.S. would then sell the assets and return a large chunk of the proceeds to the state or local agency.

While asset seizures were meant to target drug traffickers and other criminals, they have become increasingly controversial as people complained that their money, cars and other property were seized without evidence they had committed any crime.
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Sen. Charles Grassley (R., Iowa), who heads the Senate Judiciary Committee, had urged the Justice Department to end the practice. On Friday, he welcomed the shift, though he cautioned “the devil was in the details’’ of how it would be implemented.

“The rule of law ought to be about protecting innocent people. Too often, we’ve seen just the opposite with civil asset-forfeiture laws. The practice up to this point had perverse incentives,’’ Mr. Grassley said.

The asset-seizure practices of some police departments have come under attack from both libertarians, who view them as an example of overreaching government, and liberal groups, who contend the practice disproportionately targets minority drivers and citizens.

The American Civil Liberties Union also cheered the Justice Department’s decision, saying the past forfeiture practice “is a clear violation of due process that is often used to disproportionately target communities of color,’’ and urged state and federal lawmakers to pass laws to further scale back asset seizures.

Ron Brooks, a retired California state narcotics officer and past president of the National Narcotic Officers’ Associations Coalition, criticized the move, saying it would eliminate a valuable weapon in the fight against drug-trafficking organizations.

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“While the money is helpful to us, that’s not the reason forfeiture occurs,” said Mr. Brooks, now a consultant. “It occurs because it removes the most critical component of these criminal organizations: the capital to operate,” he said.

Mr. Brooks said the move would deprive local law enforcement of money that it uses for things like police equipment and overtime pay.

In 2010, forfeiture programs confiscated homes, cars, boats and cash in more than 15,000 cases. The total take topped $2.5 billion, more than double the take five years earlier, Justice Department statistics show.

The rule change doesn’t prevent local authorities from using their own seizure laws to confiscate property.

The new policy also doesn’t apply to seizures resulting from joint operations involving federal and local law-enforcement authorities, or stemming from warrants that are issued by a federal judge.
In 2010, agents seized $392,000 in cash belonging to James Lieto, in the right foreground at Granite Check Cashing Service in Peekskill, N.Y. The money was later returned to the innocent bystander in a fraud inquiry. ENLARGE
In 2010, agents seized $392,000 in cash belonging to James Lieto, in the right foreground at Granite Check Cashing Service in Peekskill, N.Y. The money was later returned to the innocent bystander in a fraud inquiry. Jason Andrew for The Wall Street Journal

The two-page instruction signed by Mr. Holder on Friday also will still allow federal authorities to adopt seizures of weapons, explosives and assets that are linked to child pornography. He said that forfeiture is still a “critical law-enforcement tool when used appropriately.’’

Asset forfeiture by law-enforcement agencies has grown since the 1980s and 1990s, largely as a result of the fight against drug traffickers.

Justice Department officials said that when the laws were first applied, few states had their own seizure laws, so using the federal law was an effective way to strip criminals of their profits. Now, however, every state has either criminal or civil forfeiture laws.

It wasn’t immediately clear how much of an affect the federal change would have on state and local police departments, but the move isn’t expected to have much of an impact on federal accounts, since forfeiture adoptions in the past 6 years added up to just 3% of the value of forfeitures in the Justice Department’s Asset Forfeiture Program.

Write to Devlin Barrett at and Zusha Elinson at
126  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / What % of Muslims are "extremist"? on: January 17, 2015, 11:57:23 AM
127  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: January 17, 2015, 11:51:47 AM
Good to see you posting here again  cool
128  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Romney on: January 17, 2015, 11:50:38 AM

SAN DIEGO, Ca.—Two-time Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Friday cast himself as a leader for the “post- Obama era,” attacking likely Democratic contender Hillary Clinton in remarks viewed as a stump speech for another White House quest.

A gathering of Republican Party leaders was the setting for Mr. Romney’s first public comments since signaling his interest in a 2016 candidacy and forcing many donors and activists to reassess their early allegiances.

Mr. Romney stopped short of announcing a 2016 campaign, but leaned heavily into the prospect, saying he was “giving serious consideration to the future.”

He quipped that his wife, Ann, “believes people get better with experience—and heaven knows I have experience running for president.”

Mr. Romney’s call to “end the scourge of poverty” was the most striking departure from his 2012 campaign, in which Democrats attacked him as a wealthy corporate raider who lacked concern for the poor. Mr. Romney contributed to the unflattering narrative during that campaign by scoffing in a private fundraiser at the “47 %” who receive government assistance and recommending “self-deportation” for illegal immigrants.

On Friday, Mr. Romney called for helping “all Americans regardless of the neighborhood they live in.” He also noted his work as a pastor helping the poor, a biographical detail largely overlooked in his 2012 bid.  Mr. Romney didn't offer any specific policy proposals, but by listing income inequality as one of three priorities, he suggested his next campaign would seek to reach voters from a wide range of income levels and racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Some of his Mr. Romney’s potential rivals, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, have signaled they will address economic anxiety in their campaigns.  Mr. Romney was joined by his wife, who thanked the party for its support and work electing Republicans in 2014.

Mr. Romney touted an interventionist foreign policy, as he has in previous campaigns, and sounded ready to direct his criticism at Mrs. Clinton, who is expected to announce another White House bid in the next few months.

“The results of the Hillary Clinton-Barack Obama foreign policy have been devastating,” Mr. Romney said at the reception held aboard the USS Midway aircraft carrier, which is now a military museum. He described their approach as “based in part on the premise that if we’re friendly enough to other people, and if we smile broadly enough and press the reset button, peace is going to break around the world.”

The 13-minute speech capped off a three-day gathering of Republican Party leaders in which Mr. Romney’s intentions were a constant topic of conversation in hallways and ballrooms.

Mr. Romney described the event as “like coming back to a high school reunion to see all my friends,” and he received warm applause. But interviews with party leaders over the course of the Republican National Committee conference found little enthusiasm for another campaign by Mr. Romney, outside of his most loyal allies.

This year’s deep bench of potential candidates is a point of pride for many Republicans after losing the White House two times in a row.

“No disrespect to Gov. Romney, but we need to move on,” said Kris Warner, the national committeeman from West Virginia. “I don’t want to go back and relive the presidential campaign of four years ago."

Gov. Romney is certainly a good man, but he has much convincing to do as a politician, because if the strategy is the same, the result will be the same,” said South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Matt Moore. “Most voters want to at least hear from the new, conservative leaders in our party and we owe that to them. It’s clear no one is going to hand Gov. Romney the nomination on a silver platter.”

Appearances by some of Mr. Romney’s potential rivals at the RNC’s annual winter meeting reinforced the growing breadth of the potential 2016 field. The speakers included Ben Carson, a firebrand speaker who has never run for office; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who cast himself as a refreshing Washington outsider; and outgoing Texas Gov. Rick Perry , who stressed his success at creating jobs.

Bruce Hough, Utah’s national committeeman and a personal friend of Romneys, said Mr. Romney’s warnings about the slow economic recovery and the national-security threat posed by Russia have been borne out since his 2012 campaign.

“He’s been vetted and vindicated,” Mr. Hough said. “If he doesn’t run and we lose in 2016, he will have a pit in his gut.”

Only two weeks ago, Mr. Romney wasn't considered to be in the mix for 2016, outside of sporadic murmurs. The former governor and his closest allies have made a spree of calls to former staff members, elected officials and fundraisers in an effort to hastily lay the groundwork for a potential campaign.

The past week has also seen other likely candidates rolling out names of top political advisers, courting voters in the states that hold the earliest nominating contests and heading out on book tours.

On the Democratic side, Mrs. Clinton is nearing a decision on another White House bid as the overwhelming favorite in the polls for her party’s nomination.

“There’s intrigue, there’s drama, it’s interesting,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said of the GOP field. “I think that it’s all great for our party.”

—Janet Hook contributed to this article.
129  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Crime and Punishment on: January 17, 2015, 10:36:07 AM
Thank you very much GM.
130  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sharia 101 on: January 16, 2015, 09:13:10 PM
131  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / 17 year old gets 35 years for credit card fraud on: January 16, 2015, 09:10:24 PM
132  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH MI law vetoed on: January 16, 2015, 09:00:44 PM

Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan on Thursday vetoed gun legislation that was supported by the National Rifle Association and approved by wide margins in the state’s Legislature, dominated in both chambers by Mr. Snyder’s fellow Republicans.

Mr. Snyder, who was endorsed by the N.R.A. as he sought a second term as governor last fall, had received a flood of pressure from both sides on the two-bill package in recent days, including letters of opposition from Gabrielle Giffords, the former congresswoman from Arizona who was shot in 2011, and Representative Debbie Dingell, a Democrat of Michigan.

Mr. Snyder said the package could allow people accused of domestic abuse to obtain concealed pistol licenses. “We simply can’t and won’t take the chance of exposing domestic abuse victims to additional violence or intimidation,” Mr. Snyder said in a news release. “There are certainly some reforms that can improve the way Michigan issues concealed pistol licenses and we support the rights of law-abiding firearm owners, but it’s crucial that we leave in place protections for people who already have endured challenges and abuse.”

Under current Michigan law, a person who is the subject of a personal protection order may not receive a concealed pistol license, the governor’s office said, while the new measures would have barred such licenses only in cases where that was specifically required by the courts.

Mr. Snyder has irked those in his party before on other issues, at one point urging that the state quickly set up a health care exchange and, at another, vetoing several voting measures including one that called for photo identification to get an absentee ballot.

Mr. Snyder said that he supported some elements of the package, which was aimed at turning the duties of concealed weapons licensing boards over to county clerks and law enforcement authorities. He urged lawmakers to seek new measures to further those elements. Generally, the governor’s spokeswoman said, he considers gun issues an “important balancing act — making sure we’re vigilantly protecting the constitutional rights of the state’s law-abiding firearm owners while also ensuring public safety and security, especially for vulnerable Michiganders.”

Gun rights supporters criticized the decision, saying the new measures had been widely mischaracterized, while advocates for gun control and for victims of domestic violence said the governor had made an essential choice on a question of safety, not partisanship.

Chris W. Cox, executive director of the N.R.A.’s Institute for Legislative Action, said the measures did not expose victims to any additional risks of violence. Under the new measures, someone applying for a personal protection order could check a box seeking that the subject of the order be barred from having a firearm, he noted.

“The fact is that this bill would have provided victims of domestic violence increased protections against would-be abusers, while protecting our constitutional rights of self-defense and due process,” Mr. Cox said in a news release.
133  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Condaleeza Rice testifies on: January 16, 2015, 08:58:02 PM
WASHINGTON — White House officials favor two primary tactics when they want to kill a news article, Condoleezza Rice, the former national security adviser, testified Thursday: They can essentially confirm the report by arguing that it is too important to national security to be published, or they can say that the reporter has it wrong.

Sitting across from a reporter and editor from The New York Times in early 2003, Ms. Rice said, she tried both.

Testifying in the leak trial of Jeffrey Sterling, a former C.I.A. officer, Ms. Rice described how the White House successfully persuaded Times editors not to publish an article about a secret operation to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program. James Risen, a Times reporter, ultimately revealed the program in his 2006 book, “State of War,” and said that the C.I.A. had botched the operation. Prosecutors used Ms. Rice’s testimony to bolster their case that the leak to Mr. Risen had harmed national security.

“This was very closely held,” Ms. Rice said. “It was one of the most closely held programs in my tenure as national security adviser.”

Ms. Rice’s account also threw a light on how the government pressures journalists to avoid publishing details about United States security affairs. It is a common practice that is seldom discussed.

Under President George W. Bush, the White House urged reporters to withhold accounts about many of the most contentious aspects in the war on terrorism: the existence of a secret prison in Thailand, the Central Intelligence Agency’s interrogation and detention program, warrantless wiretapping and government monitoring of financial transactions.

The Obama administration has persuaded reporters to delay publishing the existence of a drone base in Saudi Arabia, the name of a country in which a drone strike against an American citizen was being considered, the fact that a diplomat arrested in Pakistan was a C.I.A. officer and that an American businessman was working for the agency when he disappeared in Iran.

Mr. Sterling is charged with revealing classified information to Mr. Risen. Phone records and emails show that the two men were in contact, and the Justice Department argues that Mr. Sterling was a disgruntled employee who leaked the information to hurt the agency. His lawyers say the government did not investigate anyone else over the leak or review the phone records and emails of Mr. Sterling’s colleagues before focusing on him.

William Harlow, a former C.I.A. spokesman, testified Thursday that he was surprised when Mr. Risen first raised the subject of the Iranian operation in April 2003. Mr. Harlow testified that he did not know at the time that such an operation existed, and told Mr. Risen that only “a publication that didn’t have our best interests” would run such an article.

“I wanted to get his attention,” Mr. Harlow said.

Mr. Harlow summarized multiple phone conversations with Mr. Risen in memos that would form the foundation of the leak investigation.

The Iranian operation involved a former Russian nuclear scientist who, while working for the C.I.A., provided Tehran with schematics that were intentionally flawed. Mr. Risen’s book suggests that the program was mismanaged, that the Iranians quickly discovered the flaws and that they could have easily worked around them. The government disputes that conclusion.

According to notes of the White House meeting, George J. Tenet, the C.I.A. director at the time, told Mr. Risen and his editor, Jill Abramson, that the program was not mismanaged and that Iran had not discovered the design flaw. The C.I.A. prepared talking points for Ms. Rice that said that revealing the program would not only jeopardize the former Russian scientist — who had become an American citizen — but “conceivably contribute to the deaths of millions of innocent victims” in the event of an Iranian nuclear attack. Ms. Rice said she urged The Times to destroy any documents or notes about the program.

The Times ultimately did not run the article. Ms. Abramson, who was the Washington bureau chief at the time, said recently that she regretted not pushing to publish it. Told about Ms. Rice’s testimony, Ms. Abramson said in an email on Thursday that the trial “seems anticlimactic and pointless.”

Mr. Risen declined to comment. The Justice Department decided against putting him on the witness stand at trial, leaving prosecutors with a largely circumstantial case. But prosecutors have said that Mr. Sterling is the only one who could have leaked the information.
134  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POth: French rein in speech backing terror on: January 16, 2015, 08:54:20 PM

French Rein In Speech Backing Acts of Terror

The funeral in Montreuil for Bernard Verlhac, a cartoonist who died in the attack on Charlie Hebdo. Credit Yoan Valat/European Pressphoto Agency

PARIS — The French authorities are moving aggressively to rein in speech supporting terrorism, employing a new law to mete out tough prison sentences in a crackdown that is stoking a free-speech debate after last week’s attacks in Paris.

Those swept up under the new law include a 28-year-old man of French-Tunisian background who was sentenced to six months in prison after he was found guilty of shouting support for the attackers as he passed a police station in Bourgoin-Jalieu on Sunday. A 34-year-old man who on Saturday hit a car while drunk, injured the other driver and subsequently praised the acts of the gunmen when the police detained him was sentenced Monday to four years in prison.

All told, up to 100 people are under investigation for making or posting comments that support or try to justify terrorism, according to Cédric Cabut, a prosecutor in Bourgoin-Jalieu, in the east of France. The French news media have reported about cases in Paris, Toulouse, Nice, Strasbourg, Orléans and elsewhere in France.

The arrests have raised questions about a double standard for free speech here, with one set of rules for the cartoonists who freely skewered religions of all kinds, even when Muslims, Catholics and others objected, and yet were defended for their right to do so, and another set for the statements by Muslim supporters of the gunmen, which have led to their prosecution.

But French law does prohibit speech that might invoke or support violence. And prosecutors, who on Wednesday were urged by the Ministry of Justice to fight and prosecute “words or acts of hatred” with “utmost vigor,” are relying particularly on new tools under a law adopted in November to battle the threat of jihadism. The law includes prison sentences up to seven years for backing terrorism.

Some of those who were cited under the new law have already been sentenced, with the criminal justice system greatly accelerated, moving from accusations to trial and imprisonment in as little as three days.

Prosecutors seized on the law in the days after the terrorist attacks in Paris, which left 17 people dead — 12 at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a weekly newspaper that was targeted in retaliation for publishing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. A notice from the Ministry of Justice on Jan. 12 directed prosecutors to react firmly.

The accused did not have to threaten actual violence to run afoul of the law. According to Mr. Cabut, who brought the case in Bourgoin-Jalieu, the man shouted, “They killed Charlie and I had a good laugh. In the past they killed Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Mohammed Merah and many brothers. If I didn’t have a father or mother, I would train in Syria.”

The most prominent case now pending in the French courts is that of Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, a provocative humorist who has been a longtime symbol in France of the battle between free speech and public safety. With nearly 40 previous arrests on suspicion of violating antihate laws, for statements usually directed at Jews, he was again arrested on Wednesday, this time for condoning terrorism.

He faces trial in early February in connection with a Facebook message he posted, declaring, “Tonight, as far as I’m concerned, I feel like Charlie Coulibaly.” It was a reference to the popular slogan of solidarity for the murdered Charlie Hebdo cartoonists — “Je suis Charlie” — and one of the attackers, Amedy Coulibaly, who killed a policewoman and later four people in a kosher supermarket last Friday.

Prosecutors and other lawyers say the difference is laid out in French law, which unlike United States laws, limits what can be said or done in specific categories. Because of its World War II history, for example, France has speech laws that specifically address anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. In the case of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, prosecutors said, the targets were ideas and concepts, and though deemed extreme by some, the satire was meted out broadly.

“A lot of people say that it’s unjust to support Charlie Hebdo and then allow Dieudonné to be censored,” said Mathieu Davy, a lawyer who specializes in media rights. “But there are clear limits in our legal system. I have the right to criticize an idea, a concept or a religion. I have the right to criticize the powers in my country. But I don’t have the right to attack people and to incite hate.”

President François Hollande of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany on Thursday both sought to quash any backlash against Muslims in the wake of the Islamic militants’ attacks. As they have also done in recent days, they raised the issue of anti-Semitism.

“We must be clear between ourselves, lucid,” Mr. Hollande told an audience at the Institute of the Arab World in Paris. He said that inequalities and conflicts that had persisted for years had fueled radical Islam.

“The Muslims are the first victims of fanaticism, extremism and intolerance,” he said.

“French Muslims have the same rights, the same duties as all citizens,” Mr. Hollande said.

Pope Francis joined the debate while traveling to the Philippines from Sri Lanka, saying that while he defended freedom of expression, there were also limits.
135  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / POTH: Ocean life faces mass extinction on: January 16, 2015, 08:49:12 PM
Ocean Life Faces Mass Extinction, Broad Study Says

JAN. 15, 2015
A dead whale in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, in 2011. As container ships multiply, more whales are being harmed, a study said. Credit Marco De Swart/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A team of scientists, in a groundbreaking analysis of data from hundreds of sources, has concluded that humans are on the verge of causing unprecedented damage to the oceans and the animals living in them.

“We may be sitting on a precipice of a major extinction event,” said Douglas J. McCauley, an ecologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an author of the new research, which was published on Thursday in the journal Science.  But there is still time to avert catastrophe, Dr. McCauley and his colleagues also found. Compared with the continents, the oceans are mostly intact, still wild enough to bounce back to ecological health.

“We’re lucky in many ways,” said Malin L. Pinsky, a marine biologist at Rutgers University and another author of the new report. “The impacts are accelerating, but they’re not so bad we can’t reverse them.”

Scientific assessments of the oceans’ health are dogged by uncertainty: It’s much harder for researchers to judge the well-being of a species living underwater, over thousands of miles, than to track the health of a species on land. And changes that scientists observe in particular ocean ecosystems may not reflect trends across the planet.

Dr. Pinsky, Dr. McCauley and their colleagues sought a clearer picture of the oceans’ health by pulling together data from an enormous range of sources, from discoveries in the fossil record to statistics on modern container shipping, fish catches and seabed mining. While many of the findings already existed, they had never been juxtaposed in such a way.

A number of experts said the result was a remarkable synthesis, along with a nuanced and encouraging prognosis.

“I see this as a call for action to close the gap between conservation on land and in the sea,” said Loren McClenachan of Colby College, who was not involved in the study.

There are clear signs already that humans are harming the oceans to a remarkable degree, the scientists found. Some ocean species are certainly overharvested, but even greater damage results from large-scale habitat loss, which is likely to accelerate as technology advances the human footprint, the scientists reported.

Coral reefs, for example, have declined by 40 percent worldwide, partly as a result of climate-change-driven warming.

Some fish are migrating to cooler waters already. Black sea bass, once most common off the coast of Virginia, have moved up to New Jersey. Less fortunate species may not be able to find new ranges. At the same time, carbon emissions are altering the chemistry of seawater, making it more acidic.

“If you cranked up the aquarium heater and dumped some acid in the water, your fish would not be very happy,” Dr. Pinsky said. “In effect, that’s what we’re doing to the oceans.”

Fragile ecosystems like mangroves are being replaced by fish farms, which are projected to provide most of the fish we consume within 20 years. Bottom trawlers scraping large nets across the sea floor have already affected 20 million square miles of ocean, turning parts of the continental shelf to rubble. Whales may no longer be widely hunted, the analysis noted, but they are now colliding more often as the number of container ships rises.

Mining operations, too, are poised to transform the ocean. Contracts for seabed mining now cover 460,000 square miles underwater, the researchers found, up from zero in 2000. Seabed mining has the potential to tear up unique ecosystems and introduce pollution into the deep sea.

The oceans are so vast that their ecosystems may seem impervious to change. But Dr. McClenachan warned that the fossil record shows that global disasters have wrecked the seas before. “Marine species are not immune to extinction on a large scale,” she said.

Until now, the seas largely have been spared the carnage visited on terrestrial species, the new analysis also found.

The fossil record indicates that a number of large animal species became extinct as humans arrived on continents and islands. For example, the moa, a giant bird that once lived on New Zealand, was wiped out by arriving Polynesians in the 1300s, probably within a century.

But it was only after 1800, with the Industrial Revolution, that extinctions on land really accelerated.

Humans began to alter the habitat that wildlife depended on, wiping out forests for timber, plowing under prairie for farmland, and laying down roads and railroads across continents.

Species began going extinct at a much faster pace. Over the past five centuries, researchers have recorded 514 animal extinctions on land. But the authors of the new study found that documented extinctions are far rarer in the ocean.

The Gulf of Maine has suspended codfishing and shrimping, it is one of many tactics needed to replenish biomass.Sadly, many nations do not...

Before 1500, a few species of seabirds are known to have vanished. Since then, scientists have documented only 15 ocean extinctions, including animals such as the Caribbean monk seal and the Steller’s sea cow.

While these figures are likely underestimates, Dr. McCauley said that the difference was nonetheless revealing.

“Fundamentally, we’re a terrestrial predator,” he said. “It’s hard for an ape to drive something in the ocean extinct.”

Many marine species that have become extinct or are endangered depend on land — seabirds that nest on cliffs, for example, or sea turtles that lay eggs on beaches.

Still, there is time for humans to halt the damage, Dr. McCauley said, with effective programs limiting the exploitation of the oceans. The tiger may not be salvageable in the wild — but the tiger shark may well be, he said.

“There are a lot of tools we can use,” he said. “We better pick them up and use them seriously.”

Dr. McCauley and his colleagues argue that limiting the industrialization of the oceans to some regions could allow threatened species to recover in other ones. “I fervently believe that our best partner in saving the ocean is the ocean itself,” said Stephen R. Palumbi of Stanford University, an author of the new study.

The scientists also argued that these reserves had to be designed with climate change in mind, so that species escaping high temperatures or low pH would be able to find refuge.

“It’s creating a hopscotch pattern up and down the coasts to help these species adapt,” Dr. Pinsky said.

Ultimately, Dr. Palumbi warned, slowing extinctions in the oceans will mean cutting back on carbon emissions, not just adapting to them.

“If by the end of the century we’re not off the business-as-usual curve we are now, I honestly feel there’s not much hope for normal ecosystems in the ocean,” he said. “But in the meantime, we do have a chance to do what we can. We have a couple decades more than we thought we had, so let’s please not waste it.”
136  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / ISIS into Afpakia on: January 16, 2015, 04:44:31 PM
 The Islamic State Reaches Into Afghanistan and Pakistan
January 16, 2015 | 10:15 GMT Print Text Size
A Pakistani man holds a pamphlet purportedly distributed by the Islamic State in Peshawar. (A MAJEED/AFP/Getty Images)

The establishment of the Khorasan chapter of the Islamic State in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region strengthens the group's image as a phenomenon with global reach. But the new chapter's links to the Islamic State are fragile, and it owes its existence more to the fragmentation of the cross-border Taliban movement than to anything the Islamic State has done. The Khorasan chapter, like other Islamic State affiliates beyond the Syrian-Iraqi battlespace, will be met with local resistance from jihadist forces and al Qaeda who see groups friendly toward the Islamic State as a challenge to their authority.


According to The News International, the largest English-language daily in Pakistan, the Islamic State announced the creation of a Khorasan chapter in a video released Jan. 13. (Khorasan theoretically includes Iran and Central Asia, in addition to Afghanistan and Pakistan, but so far the chapter is only functioning in the latter two countries.) In the video, a former Pakistani Taliban spokesman by the name of Shahidullah Shahid announced the names of the Islamic State commanders responsible for various parts of Afghanistan and revealed the chapter's new leader, a former Pakistani Taliban figure named Saeed Khan. Lending credibility to the announcement of the group's establishment, Afghan government officials have in recent days told Afghan media of the Islamic State's growing presence in several eastern and southern provinces, saying the group is fighting both Afghan security forces and Taliban militiamen.

In response to those reports, Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi sent an email to the Afghan Islamic Press agency, denouncing the reports as propaganda put forth by Kabul and Western governments. He denied that the Islamic State's black flags were flying in several areas where the Taliban are usually active, and insisted that all the "mujahideen" were fighting under the white flag of the Taliban movement and asserted that there was no infighting within the movement.
Taliban Fragmentation

Despite Ahmadi's claims to the contrary, there is growing evidence that elements from the Pakistani and, to a lesser extent, the Afghan Taliban have defected. It is understandable that the Pakistani Taliban would fracture; the group has tended toward transnationalism since its inception, and more recently it has suffered significant losses and struggled with internal dissension. Moreover, the Islamic State has eclipsed the Pakistani Taliban's erstwhile ally, al Qaeda, so alliance with the group seen as the rising star would be reasonable. The Pakistani Taliban have also been far more sectarian than their Afghan counterparts, and the Islamic State's blatant and aggressive anti-Shiite doctrine appeals to them.

While the Afghan Taliban are not hemorrhaging as badly as their Pakistani counterparts, they have had their share of fragmentation over the years. Initially, the source of the frictions was the absence of the group's founder, Mullah Mohammad Omar, who has been in hiding since 9/11. The separation has meant considerable autonomy for field commanders. The Haqqani faction best represents this trend.

But ever since the Taliban acknowledged that they were in talks with the United States in 2011, the group, whose hard-line elements oppose the talks, has become even less cohesive. Al Qaeda has tried for years to exploit this discord but it has had only moderate success. Besides, the talks have not produced much — only a political bureau in Qatar and a few tactical agreements.

However, with improved relations between Kabul and Islamabad, China's emergence as a key international interlocutor and the coming to power of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, the peace talks have been revived. These renewed efforts come at the same time that the Islamic State is gaining support among jihadists and sectarian militants on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The key is the Islamic State expansion in Southwest Asia — to the degree that it is actually happening — is taking place because of divisions among existing jihadists.

If the existing divisions in the Taliban movement become more acute, it still does not mean the Islamic State will take over the jihadist landscape in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Instead, it will be just one more name in an already saturated jihadist market. The ensuing competition will be bloody and will contribute to the overall weakening of jihadism, which is already under a great deal of pressure given the paradigm shift that has been in the making in Pakistan for a few years now and the fact that the Afghan Taliban want to be internationally recognized as an Afghan national force.
Afghan Taliban Position

Already the Afghan Taliban have been portraying themselves as a national jihadist force and distancing themselves from al Qaeda's transnational agenda. While al Qaeda did not challenge the Taliban — and in fact paid allegiance to its chief — the Islamic State, with its professed caliphate, poses a direct threat to the Taliban. Since Mullah Omar claims only to lead the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, he is theoretically lesser in stature than Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who claims to be caliph of all Muslims. The Islamic State was also critical of Mullah Omar and the Afghan Taliban in the latest edition of its Dabiq magazine.

Pledging allegiance to al-Baghdadi would weaken Mullah Omar's position and that of his movement. The Islamic State is unlikely to supplant the Afghan Taliban. However, the Islamic State's spread does create divisions in the jihadist landscape that undermine the position of the Taliban. Furthermore, the sectarian agenda of the Islamic State complicates the negotiations that the Taliban are having with the Afghan government and threatens to draw Iran into the country.

As groups aligned with the Islamic State grow in Afghanistan and Pakistan, in large part recruiting from the Taliban movement, we can expect jihadists in the region to fight back to retain their own influence. Eventually an intra-jihadist struggle could emerge far more intense than what is currently underway in Iraq and Syria, but the Islamic State will not dominate the area as it has in the Levant and Mesopotamia.

Read more: The Islamic State Reaches Into Afghanistan and Pakistan | Stratfor
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137  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Cremated ashes into diamongs on: January 16, 2015, 02:27:51 PM
138  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russia's plans for Arctic supremacy on: January 16, 2015, 02:17:06 PM
 Russia's Plans for Arctic Supremacy
January 16, 2015 | 10:30 GMT Print Text Size
Elements from the Russian Army's Guards Engineer Brigade and Engineer Camouflage Regiment train in Arctic conditions, Jan. 19, 2011. (RIA Novosti/Wikimedia)

Although the crisis in Ukraine continues to focus attention on Russia's western border, Moscow is seeking to exploit a more lucrative prize along its vast northern frontage: the Arctic Circle. Melting ice has opened up new transit routes and revealed previously inaccessible oil and mineral deposits. Facing a year of harsh economic constraints, securing exploitable energy reserves remains a top priority for Moscow. The planned militarization of the Arctic is already underway, and funding is secured through 2015 (the Ministry of Defense was the only Kremlin ministry not to be curtailed in the most recent budget.) With Russia aiming to consolidate its strength by the end of the year, surrounding countries are already reassessing their positions in the face of an overwhelming regional force.

Russia's traditional view of the outside world is colored by a deep sense of insecurity and paranoia. This is best exemplified by the events in Ukraine, where the Kremlin acted to preserve its traditional geographic bulwark against the West. This pattern of protectionism is also apparent in Moscow's current understanding and approach to the situation in the Arctic. Of the eight countries of the Arctic Council, five are members of NATO, fueling Russia's suspicion that opposing forces are massing against it. Although friction with Kiev and the West has overshadowed Russia's military build-up in the Arctic, Moscow's long-term ambitions for the region are making other Arctic countries nervous, Norway in particular.

Russia is interested in the Arctic for a number of reasons, though natural resources and pure geopolitical imperatives are the major driving forces behind Moscow's thinking. The Arctic contains an estimated 30 percent of the world's undiscovered natural gas and 13 percent of its undiscovered oil reserves, regarded by Moscow as important sources of foreign investment that are critical to the country's economic development. The Northern Sea Route from East Asia to Europe via the Arctic Ocean provides another economic opportunity for developing infrastructure in northern Russia.

These resources and transit lanes, however, are also attractive to other Arctic countries, potentially turning the region into a political battleground. The U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea regulates ownership of the Arctic, allowing for exclusive economic zones stretching 200 miles from land and even further if undersea resources sit on a continental shelf. Inhospitable conditions made previous boundary disputes futile, so the Arctic interior remains open to territorial claims and disputes. The interest expressed by other countries feeds Russia's determination to make its role as a central Arctic nation clear by any means possible, including the use of military pressure.

Russia's Arctic Build-Up

Militarizing the Arctic will be a key imperative for the Russian military throughout 2015 and beyond — alongside modernization in general and bolstering forces in Crimea and the Kaliningrad exclave. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, Soviet-era bases in the Arctic are being reactivated in response to NATO's renewed interest in the region. The airstrip on the archipelago of Novaya Zemlya is being renovated to accommodate modern and next generation fighter aircraft in addition to advanced S400 air defense systems. Part of the Northern Fleet will also be based on the island chain, which is ideally positioned for operations in the Arctic region. The Northern Fleet represents two-thirds of the entire Russian Navy, which is the only navy in the world to operate nuclear-powered icebreaker ships. In addition, Moscow announced the formation of a new 6,000-soldier military group in the far north consisting of two motorized infantry brigades located in the Murmansk area and the Yamal-Nenets autonomous region. Radar and ground guidance systems are also planned for Franz Josef Land (part of Novaya Zemlya), Wrangel Island and Cape Schmidt. The Federal Security Service plans to increase the number of border guards on Russia's northern perimeter as well.

The recent Vostok 2014 full-scale military exercise — the biggest since the collapse of the Soviet Union — was a revealing indication of Russia's intentions in the Arctic. Russian troops, sailors and airmen carried out combat training missions in the region, prominently deploying Pantsir-S (air defense) and Iskander-M (theater ballistic missile) weapon systems, among others. Such activities inevitably evoke the atmosphere of the Cold War, when the region was the focus of U.S. and NATO attention. Furthermore, Russia's Northern Fleet announced that its Independent Marine Infantry Brigade will undergo intensive training in the Arctic region throughout 2015.

The Kremlin reiterated its intention to field a formidable combined arms force to protect its political and economic interests in the Arctic by 2020. Going into 2015, it is estimated that the Russian armed forces have around 56 military aircraft and 122 helicopters in the Arctic region. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu stated that 14 military airfields on Russia's Arctic seaboard would be operational by the end of the year. The Ministry of Defense also said some of the 50 modernized MiG-31BM Foxhound interceptors expected by 2019 will be charged with defense duties over the Arctic. Despite the economic problems plaguing Russia, the Ministry of Defense managed to escape the significant budget cuts levied against most other ministries. In fact, the Kremlin has increased defense spending by 20 percent, a clear indication of Russia's priorities for 2015 and a likely indication that Moscow intends to meet its military commitments.

At the end of 2014, Russia established a unified strategic command based around the existing command architecture of the Northern Fleet. The force structure successfully facilitates a military reach across the islands of Russia's northern territories, allowing for better oversight and control of the trade route from China to Norway. This structure also serves the purpose of monitoring — and potentially checking — any military moves by any other power in the region.

Along with the Baltic states and their respective environs, the Barents Sea is under constant surveillance by Russian fighter jets. Russia's dominance in the region was further solidified when, in late December, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a new military doctrine. In stark contrast to previous dictums, the Arctic region was officially put on the list of Russian spheres of influence for the first time. The same recognition applies to Russia's maritime doctrine, which has two major geopolitical imperatives: a thrust toward the Black Sea and dominion of the near Arctic.
The Norwegian Response

Although Russia's planned expansion in the Arctic may appear aggressive, military authorities in the Kremlin have no desire for an armed confrontation with Western powers. Moscow is aware of NATO's Article 5 agreement, which states that any attack on an individual member country could invoke a unified response from the alliance. Nevertheless, the increased Russian military presence in the region makes neighboring countries uneasy, particularly Norway.
Russia's Arctic Ambitions

Russia's actions in Ukraine, along with its military exploitation of the Arctic, forced Oslo to reassess Moscow's role and intent in the north, specifically in the area of the Barents Sea. Norway backed the Western application of sanctions against Russia, and subsequent motions from Oslo reveal a major shift in the country's strategic perception of Russia as a potential threat, in addition to highlighting the smaller country's inherent vulnerabilities. Yet, Norway is a leader when it comes to promoting NATO's role in the Arctic; it is the only country in the world that has its permanent military headquarters above the Arctic Circle. Although Norway contributed troops to the multinational force in Iraq and more than 500 personnel to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan — and was one of only seven NATO members to actually carry out air strikes during the Libya campaign — the primary force driver for its military is Arctic security. The Norwegians have invested extensively in Arctic defense capabilities, but, in terms of size and means, they are dwarfed by Russia. Because of this, Norwegian officials, both military and civilian, want to see NATO play a larger role in the Arctic.

Despite a tenuous degree of military cooperation between Norway and Russia in the past involving visits of military officials and occasional joint exercises, conventional wisdom dictated that Oslo did not hold any military exercises near its border with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. This reticence continued after the fall of the Iron Curtain, yet the Norwegian government recently announced its intent to conduct large-scale drills in Finnmark — a territory on the Russia-Norway border — in March 2015. The proposed maneuvers will be the country's largest military exercises since 1967. There is a growing recognition in Moscow that Norway's policy toward Russia is going through a major shift as a direct reaction to Moscow's push to militarize the Arctic region.
Russia's Perception of the Arctic

Russia appears to be gearing up for any eventuality in the Arctic, but its policy-makers are beginning to debate whether Russian pressure in the Arctic serves as a geopolitical pivot that could alter the regional balance of power. The emergence of a dominant Arctic player will certainly affect trans-Atlantic trade routes and commitments, relations between Russia and the northern European countries and relations between Russia and China. For half a century, the Arctic was an area of U.S.-Soviet friction and the site of numerous incidents that could easily have led to conflict. Even in a post-Cold War world, the region could once again be transformed into a zone of frozen conflicts. The great powers have long competed over the Arctic, and now countries such as China and India are expressing their own interest in the region.

Although Russia faces a raft of internal and external problems such as a strained economy, matters in Ukraine and pressure from the international community, the Kremlin remains wedded to its pursuit of the Arctic. This has forced Russia's neighbors to reassess their own military presence in places like the Barents Sea, as well as territorial claims to disputed parts of the Arctic Circle. Norway will press harder for a larger NATO presence in the northern region, but while military conflict remains a threat, Russia will stop short of instigating hostilities. The Kremlin knows that when it comes to acquisitions, actions speak louder than words, and any attempt to grab the rich, unclaimed territory of the Arctic Circle will have to be backed by force.

Read more: Russia's Plans for Arctic Supremacy | Stratfor
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139  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Missing Pages of the 911 Report on: January 16, 2015, 02:06:01 PM

 shocked shocked shocked
140  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Leslie Gelb turns on Obama on: January 16, 2015, 12:44:15 PM
Foreign policy guru Leslie Gelb is no conservative -- he's the former assistant secretary of state for Jimmy Carter. Early on, Gelb championed Barack Obama's administration and the change it brought from the George W. Bush years. But now, the hope has faded. Late to the party, Gelb writes, "The failure of Obama or Biden to show up in Paris made clear that most of the president's team can't be trusted to conduct U.S national security policy and must be replaced -- at once. Here's why America's failure to be represented at the Paris unity march was so profoundly disturbing. It wasn't just because President Obama's or Vice President Biden's absence was a horrendous gaffe. More than this, it demonstrated beyond argument that the Obama team lacks the basic instincts and judgment necessary to conduct U.S. national security policy in the next two years. It's simply too dangerous to let Mr. Obama continue as is -- with his current team and his way of making decisions. America, its allies, and friends could be heading into one of the most dangerous periods since the height of the Cold War. Mr. Obama will have to excuse most of his inner core, especially in the White House." But even that won't be enough if Obama remains his old, stubborn self. Gelb adds, "In the end, making the national security system work comes down to one factor, one man -- Barack Obama." Indeed it does, and that's why we're in bad shape until at least 2017. Then again, John Kerry took James Taylor to France to sing "You've got a friend," so that should fix it.
141  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CPI delcined .4% in December on: January 16, 2015, 12:39:43 PM
The Consumer Price Index Declined 0.4% in December To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 1/16/2015

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) declined 0.4% in December, matching consensus expectations. The CPI is up 0.8% versus a year ago.
“Cash” inflation (which excludes the government’s estimate of what homeowners would charge themselves for rent) declined 0.5% in December, and is up only 0.1% in the past year.
Energy prices declined 4.7% in December, while food prices increased 0.3%. The “core” CPI, which excludes food and energy, was unchanged - the consensus expected a gain of 0.1%. Core prices are up 1.6% versus a year ago.
Real average hourly earnings – the cash earnings of all workers, adjusted for inflation – rose 0.1% in December and are up 1.0% in the past year. Real weekly earnings are up 1.9% in the past year.
Implications: The sharpest decline in energy prices in more than six years pushed overall consumer prices lower in December at the fastest pace since the Panic of 2008. But it wasn’t just energy prices keeping a lid on inflation in December. Even excluding energy, consumer prices were unchanged for the month, with declines in clothing, airfares, and auto prices offsetting increases in rent, medical care, and food. Consumer prices rose only 0.8% in 2014, largely due to plummeting energy prices, which have now declined for six straight months. Gas is below $2.60 per gallon in all of the lower 48 states (including high-tax Illinois, New York and even California). Given the continued drop in oil prices in the first half of January, look for another tame reading on inflation in next month’s report. However, the underlying trend in inflation is higher than the overall number. Although unchanged in December, “core” consumer prices, which exclude food and energy, were up 1.6% in 2014. Also, there are sectors where prices are rising faster. Food prices rose 3.4% in 2014, the largest gain since 2011. So if you only use the supermarket to gauge inflation, we understand thinking the headline reports are too low and that “true” inflation is higher. Meanwhile, housing costs are going up. Owners’ equivalent rent, which makes up about ¼ of the overall CPI, rose 0.2% in December, was up 2.6% in 2014, and will be a key source of higher in inflation in the year ahead. In other words, even though overall prices remain subdued, there is no broad, tight-money, induced deflation out there. One of the best pieces of news in today’s report was that “real” (inflation-adjusted) average hourly earnings rose 0.1% in December after a 0.6% jump in November. These earnings are up 1% from a year ago, signaling that living standards are increasing, but still at a slow pace.
142  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Morris on Romeny vs. Bush on: January 16, 2015, 12:37:30 PM
143  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Guro Crafty en Espanol en "Budo" on: January 16, 2015, 11:40:07 AM en pagina 28
144  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CNN: 20 sleeper cells, ready to go? on: January 16, 2015, 11:35:30 AM
145  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US consulate in Jerusalem arming Palestinians? on: January 16, 2015, 11:26:39 AM
Report: US Consulate Training, Arming Palestinians as Guards
US Consulate in Jerusalem (Photo: Magister/ Wiki Commons)

Three Israeli security guards serving in the US consulate in Jerusalem have quit over plans to hire and arm 35 new Palestinian guards in violation of a 2011 agreement, reported Yedioth Ahronoth Wednesday. The new guards have been training in an American facility in Jericho.

According to the paper, in 2011, the US consulate was permitted to retain about 100 handguns for the use of security staff, on condition those who handled them were Americans or Israel Defense Force veterans. Palestinians from East Jerusalem serve on the consulate’s security staff, but until now, none of them have been armed.
Sources told the paper that began to change a year and a half ago, when Regional Security Officer Dan Cronin began working there. Since then, employees claimed, seven Israelis have been fired, while only one Palestinian has lost his job.

Employees accused Cronin of voicing pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel opinions. “The law in Israel is merely advice to him,” they told the paper. “Cronin does what he wants. He doesn’t want the Israelis in the consulate.

“The consulate’s conduct is extremely biased towards the Palestinian side, and Cronin is actually raising an armed militia of Palestinians in the consulate. They’re trained in weapons use, Krav Maga, and tactical driving. This is irresponsible. Who is ensuring that putting this weaponry in Palestinian hands will not lead to terror?”
According to the unnamed employees, the new guards are being trained in the US as well as Jericho, and some have terrorist connections. Ynetnews (the English edition of Yedioth) reported, “the most senior advisor to the consul general is a Palestinian who served time in Israeli prison because of membership in the PLO.” Another is a relative of a Hamas leader in Jerusalem, Mohammed Hassan Abu Tir, who has served several prison terms in Israel.

The staff also accused the consulate of retaining machine guns and rifles on the premises, which contravenes the agreement, as well.

The consulate refused to respond to the accusations in the media, stating, “The United States’ consulate has complete faith in the professionalism of its staff,. We do not discuss security for our diplomatic delegation, but note that there are many inaccuracies in the claims. Furthermore, we coordinate our work with local authorities in a complete and ongoing manner.”

The consulate refused to elaborate on the alleged inaccuracies.

Israel declared Jerusalem its undivided capital in 1967, after reunifying the city during the Six Day War. Many countries, however, refused to recognize Israel’s claim to the eastern part of the city, and as such keep their embassies in Tel Aviv, maintaining only consular services in Jerusalem.

The Tel Aviv embassy handles Israeli affairs, while the Jerusalem consulate handles Palestinian affairs. As such, ambassadors based in Jerusalem make frequent trips to Area A, the “West Bank” region under Palestinian control which is off-limits to Israelis. They require non-Israeli armed escorts for such trips.
146  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Record heat in 2014? on: January 16, 2015, 11:16:20 AM
147  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / This sounds ominous , , , ISIS hits Saudi Arabia on: January 16, 2015, 11:11:54 AM
Saudi Arabia Plunges into an Abyss
Posted: 15 Jan 2015 04:59 PM PST
Last week, just before the Charlie Hebdo attack, ISIS sent a suicide team across the border into Saudi Arabia.  Here's what happened.
   The attack was successful.  The team found and killed the Saudi general (Oudah al-Belawi) in charge of the country's nothern border zone at the outpost he was visiting (here's a pic of the state funeral for some of the men killed in the attack).


   The target was significant.  General Oudah al-Belawi was in charge of the multi-billion dollar Saudi effort to secure the northern border against ISIS.  Not only has Saudi Arabia sent 30,000 additional troops to guard the northern border, it's building a highly automated 600-mi security wall to protect itself (lots of robots and sensors).  Here's a great graphic of the monstrosity from the Telegraph.  My take:  What a waste of time and effort.  Better to spend a couple of million on military strategists who have a clue (I have a couple in mind).


   It demoralized the Saudi military.   This attack deeply undermines the morale of Saudi troops on the border.   If ISIS can kill a top general...
Saudi Arabia on the edge
Here why this attack is signficant. 
   It tells us that ISIS is starting to focus on Saudi Arabia --> with good reason.  The reason is that there's simply no other way to unite the various groups under the ISIS banner.  ISIS, like all open source movements, needs to keep moving in order to stay alive (like a shark).  Right now, ISIS has stalled.  A jihad to retake the holy sites from the corrupt regime in Riyadh can serve as a simple plausible promise that can reignite the open source war ISIS started, on a global scale.
   The Saudis are vulnerable.  The attackers knew exactly when the general was going to be at the outpost.  This tells us that the Saudi military is rife with ISIS sympathisers and/or active members.  If so, the Saudi military may melt away when facing jihadis (or switch sides) in the same way 30,000 Iraqi troops did early last year a couple of hundred miles to the north. 
   It explains the timing of Charlie Hebdo.  Not only was it an attack that has gained ISIS favor with millions of Saudis (given how racist and anti-islamic the magazine's cartoons were), it was also (and more importantly) a distraction.  It has successfully distracted the collective west, by pulling them into another "war on terrorism."  This attack is something I call a Red Queen's trap, since it results in damage to both the contestants in the struggle.
What does this mean for Saudi Arabia?
Saudi Arabia knows it is in trouble, that's why the Saudis are trying to buy influence in the west through a cheap oil policy (at the same time, a low price puts the hurt on US frackers and ISIS oil smugglers alike).  However, ISIS trumped this effort with Charlie Hebdo.  It will be difficult for the Saudis to convince the west they are the real target after the attack in Paris.  Here's what this means:
   We're likely to see ISIS make a big push into Saudi Arabia this spring.  This push may result in some very, very rapid gains by ISIS as Saudi troops melt away and/or join ISIS.  The big question?  If ISIS does gain a foothold: do the Saudi's accept foreign troops/airpower at the cost of their legitimacy, or do they go down fighting solo?
   The oil price dip we're currently experiencing will rapidly reverse as soon as it's clear that ISIS is gearing up a real jihad to retake Mecca and Medina.  $150 a barrel or more by the end of the year, once this gets going (or much more as it puts all of the gulf aristos in full panic mode simultaneously).
   The rapid swing in oil price will plunge the perpetually stagnant western economies into a simultaneous rout.  However, as bad as that will be, it will of little consequence compared to the damage the global financial system will do to us as hundreds of trillions of dollars in explosive financial derivatives topple the ziggurat of western debt we've so foolishly built.
148  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / France's toxic hate on: January 16, 2015, 11:00:49 AM
A second post, related to the previous one:
149  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Interview w Marie Le Pen on: January 15, 2015, 10:09:42 PM
150  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hezbollah changing on: January 15, 2015, 09:28:32 PM*Editors%20Picks&utm_campaign=2014_EditorsPicks1%2F15RS
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